Erica Walker, MA, LSW: Program Manager
I imagine that at times you may ask, what do they do at HOPES between program sessions? Aren’t the times away from the kids in program, well… boring?
I’m here to tell you, there is never a boring day at Chicago HOPES for Kids. We are always in motion on a variety of levels: building and maintaining partnerships, researching improvements to our program, planning special events, fundraising, training new staff and volunteers, and much more. The time between program is a great opportunity to make strides in these areas, and that’s what we’ve done.
For summer there are a lot of new, positive changes in store for program. We have several new partners joining us: The Juicebox and The Simple Good are bringing innovative, socially aware arts programming to two of our shelters, and long-time partner Harmony, Hope and Healing will be working with children at three different shelter sites to plan a final music performance at the end of the summer. Also, we are utilizing the Caring School Community approach developed by Collaborative Classroom to embed social and emotional learning practices into the fabric of our program. Partner projects, more flexible program time and daily group circles are intended to strengthen relationships amongst the students and with the adults leading program. Also, the curriculum for summer follows themes aligned with the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL)’s five core competencies: self-awareness, self-management, responsible decision making, relationship skills and social awareness. Finally, we are pleased to have middle school programming at four shelters this summer, the most programming we have offered thus far for 6-8 grade students. The Read to Lead program by Classroom, Inc., will give older students opportunities to increase their tech literacy, work on group projects, “be the boss” and make realistic workplace decisions impacting a community, all while reading 5,000 words per program episode.